Try a Tri
Three St. Louis triathletes share why they love competing in the popular swim, bike and run challenge.
From its humble beginnings on the beaches of California and Hawaii—the triathlon, that crazy combination of swimming, biking and running—has become one of the fastest-growing sports in the country. Membership in USA Triathlon, the sport’s national organization, has increased from just under 16,000 in 1993 to more than 107,000 in 2008. And to cement its legitimacy, the sport has been an Olympic event since 2000.
Once these races were solely the purview of extreme athletes. Tris were originally a grueling amalgamation of a 2.4 mile open-water ocean swim, more than 100 miles of road-race cycling, and capped off by a marathon run. But now there are triathlons of all distances and for all levels of athletes. Though not exactly known for its beaches, the St. Louis area is becoming a hotbed of triathlon activity. The metro area now plays host to several triathlons annually, like the Tour de Kirkwood, Innsbrook Adventure Max and Big Shark New Town triathlons, and fosters a competitive, supportive community of athletes who like to train hard and race even harder. Here are three area triathletes who are the embodiment of that community.
Already a fitness buff, Mary was prompted to try a tri by her cousin. Her first race was Tour de Kirkwood, and she took third in her age group; in her next race she got third overall. She’s completed more than 10 tris since. Besides the fitness, she enjoys the social part of training for a triathlon. “When you ride with people for 70 or 80 miles, you get to know them pretty well.”
Day Job: Director, Talent Development, Fleishman Hillard
Fave Gear: The SPIbelt—it holds my phone, keys and money while running.
Sports Idol: Sarah Haskins, Olympic triathlete
Fave Training Tunes: Hip-hop. But only in the gym, not on the road.
Words of Wisdom: “Don’t be afraid to try.”
A friend encouraged Kristin to buddy-up and attempt a triathlon with her in 2001, and after that first race, Kristin was “totally hooked,” and has lost count of how many tris she’s done since. Her favorite distance? The 1/2 Ironman. She especially appreciates how the sport makes use of both the athletic and analytical sides of her personality.
Day Job: Research technician, Washington University
Fave Gear: Garmin 310XT
Fave Training Tunes: None. “I like to pay attention to what my body is saying.”
Sports Idol: Her dad, who died in 2006
Words of Wisdom: “Visualize yourself running with a pro form, smooth and strong.”
Byron played semi-pro football with St. Louis Bulldogs until a motorcycle accident landed him in rehab. His doctor, a triathlete, encouraged him to compete to further his recovery. He likes racing tris for the sense of accomplishment he gets and for the sport’s egalitarian aspect. “It’s up to you to achieve what you want from a triathlon,” he says.
Day Job: Manager, Contracts and Pricing, Boeing
Fave Gear: Garmin 310XT
Fave Training Tunes: None. Byron likes the Zen aspect of training in silence.
Sports Idol: Craig Alexander, two-time World Ironman champ
Words of Wisdom: “Don’t ever tell me I can’t do it.”
Photo credit: Photos by Carrie Iggulden